I was wondering when to add de or que after “j'ai l'impression”. If the subject remains the same, do we just add de? For example:

J'ai l'impression d'avoir oublié quelque chose.

And can an adjective follow the “j'ai l'impression” construction? What if I said “J'ai l'impression que tu es en colère”?

Simply, I was hoping for some clarification on how to use this expression in different contexts.

1 Answer 1


If “j’ai l’impression” is followed by an infinitive, use de (or d’ in front of a vowel or mute H):

  • J’ai l’impression d’avoir oublié quelque chose → I feel like I forgot something
  • Elle a l’impression de perdre son temps → She feels like she’s wasting her time
  • Ça donne l’impression de flotter → It makes you feel like you’re floating in mid-air

If “j’ai l’impression” is followed by a conjugated verb, then use que (or qu’):

  • J’ai l’impression que ça ne va pas durer → I’m under the impression it won’t last long
  • Avez-vous l’impression qu’il se mettra à pleuvoir bientôt ? → Do you think it’s going to be raining before long?
  • On avait l’impression que tu ne reviendrais pas avant une semaine → We were under the impression you wouldn’t be back for a week

Concerning adjectives (or other types of words) used with the phrase, they would then define more precisely the type of impression felt. I’d say they would usually preceed the word impression, though.

  • J’ai la persistante impression que l’on m’observe → I persistently feel someone is watching me
  • J’avais toujours cette impression de d’être sur le point d’un grand changement → I always had this impression of standing on the verge of some great changes

Also take note of the very appropriate comments by aCOSwt below. I shall integrate them into the answer when I have more time.

  • 2
    Oui et +1 pour une règle qui servira la plupart du temps. Dans les faits, c'est un poil plus complexe car des constructions impression que + infinitif sont tout aussi légitimes. J'ai l'impression que discuter ne sert à rien... En fait, grammaticalement, tout dépendra de si on veut faire suivre impression par un complément (+de) ou par une complétive (+que).
    – MC68020
    Oct 12, 2018 at 9:53
  • 1
    Sur le propos du commentaire précédent : On peut souvent observer l'envie (inutile à mon opinion) de toujours respecter votre première consigne (de devant l'infinitif) et au lieu du suffisant J'ai l'impression que discuter... on entendra J'ai l'impression que de discuter...
    – MC68020
    Oct 12, 2018 at 10:01
  • Thanks for the great replies. I just wanted to confirm what I had mentioned in my question regarding the subject. In the examples given in your answer, the infinitive (and, thus, 'de') is used in sentences where the subject doesn't change. In those where 'que' is used, the subject is different i.e. do YOU think that IT will rain/I was under the impression that YOU weren't coming...' If the general rule is de+inf and que+conj. verb, is the application of those two rules dependent on the subject. For example, one can only use 'de+inf.' when the subject remains unchanged. Oct 12, 2018 at 16:56
  • @ArmaanKapila I made several examples where the subject is either the same or different. It is not so much the subject change or remaining the same as the verb introduced that will trigger the use of de or que after. “It makes you feel like you're floating” → subject changes, but de is used. “She feels like she's wasting her time” → same person, but de as well. Oct 12, 2018 at 17:40

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